Purposeful Faith

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How God is Helping You Work Problems Out

God is Helping You

Imagine if every time you hit a hard time, you had a friend a step ahead of you. Your car broke down?  They were already waiting on-location with the jack. Your mom was in the hospital? Upon your arrival, they stood at the hospital room door with soup. Your landlord just kicked you out of your house? They beat his call by 5 minutes to invite you to stay with them.

You may think one of three things:

  1. This person is the rock-star of all friends.
  2. You can’t live without them.
  3. Only God could do this sort of thing.

On all three counts, you’d be right.

Sadly, there is no person like this. But there’s a God just this way:
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Is. 65:24

God isn’t just in step with our needs, he’s one step ahead.

We call, he’s already answering.
We speak, he’s already working.
What we can’t voice, he’s addressing.

What we’ve been afraid to ask for, he’s hearing.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Ro. 8:26

God doesn’t just hear our prayers, he preemptively steps in front of them. Like a good basketball player, he anticipates where we’re headed and beats us there. The only difference is, rather than blocking us, he gets there to lift us up. He gets there to help us score our goal. God improves our shot.

Have you been negating the love of God, the power of prayer or the worth of praise?

Often, we don’t say thank you for what we can’t see. We don’t say thank you for the disastrous saves never knew. We don’t say thank you for the trials God averted. We don’t say thank you for the small blessings we thought were our work.

Maybe today is the day we do.

Thank you, God, for all you do. You do more than meets the eye. You are working for us, helping us, and freeing us. Thank you that you are leaning into our problems and calling out on behalf of our weakness. Thank you that your all-consuming power is behind us and pushing for our best outcome. Amen.

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Is Your Faith Falling?

I hung this up in my house. It represented Fall and a call to believe God. I liked it.
faith falling
Until the door got shut too hard. Belief fell.
faith falling
Doors get shut, faith falls. Ever noticed? Opportunities dissolve – it appears God won’t solve anything. People hurt – it feels God doesn’t care. Sicknesses, emotions and accidents happen – all of a sudden, you can’t figure out what happened to God and you’ve gotta do things on your own.

The door that slammed into you broke God’s goodness.

Has this happened to you?
Maybe it is hard to see, feel or walk by the great things God has planned for you?

To walk, by faith, is to walk by God’s sight, in his full might.

 

To walk, not by faith, is to walk with no might, relying on your demise in sight.
When we walk aimlessly between these two, we walk crippled. We blindly stumble over Jesus’ victory – we fall into victimhood. We lay there looking around and all of a sudden the clear paths God set before us – the words of encouragement, the praise or the worship we wanted to sing – rings hallow. Then, we get angry at God.
I’ve been fighting to keep my heart above ground.
I want to keep that cross of belief hung high, even when the assaults of the world feel like low blows. And, I’ve been assaulted alright. People I trusted, didn’t come through for me. The hope I had, now appears unpromising. My health, is on round 3 of colds. My mind has been fighting and fighting and fighting. That cross, has fallen, friends, it has fallen.
But, I am picking it back up. Like Jesus did. He never let it stay on the ground…
I am putting it back upon my shoulders and looking ahead to the prize that awaits at the end of faithful days.

Will you pick it back up again?

Don’t let it sit there, on the ground. Doors don’t define you, Jesus does. Pick up the cross of faith and carry on, even if every step feels like you are going to fall, be laughed at or injured. Keep going. Hold on to the vision of hope, the belief that God is working out goodness and the knowledge he is helping you.

Don’t let shame hold you back again, either. You doubted for a moment. So what? That was then, this is now. God shuts the door on all revenge, anger and retribution when you ask for forgiveness.
Rush over to the cross, see new faith and hang it high again. Let his love rush in.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (Ro. 8:35)
Nothing. No discouragement, despair, demotivation, denial, depression, dejection, darkness or defiance can keep you from his love.
 
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Ro. 8:36)
The victor is risen.
The fight is won.
Our destiny is secure.
No trip, trial or trap will stop it.
We keep our eyes set on destination.
Carry that cross on.
And believe by faith,
in the greatness God has in store for you.
KNOW and speak within yourself: “Nothing can ever separate (me) from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate (me) from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate (me) from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro. 8:38-39)

Together, we walk – united. Christ as the anchor to the faith upon which we stand.  In him, there is no trial or tribulation that can knock us to the floor.

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When Sharing Makes You Embarrassed

makes embarrassed

Bzzzt…the green radio waves signaled…I was on! I was live.

untitled-design-7

“Can I just vent? Everything’s going wrong… Remember how my husband went out of town last week? Well, the second he leaves, daughter started exploding the worst vile out of her mouth. I couldn’t get her head to toilet fast enough; the stuff went all down my leg. Finally, husband gets back home – and he gets sick! Days later, son starts shooting water out. Now I have it. Add that to the cold that’s coming on…and I haven’t even told you about yesterday! Oh, don’t start me on yesterday! I spent nearly all day convincing the military (I mean, employees) at the Motor Vehicle association that my documents were valid, acceptable and pleasing. It was the greatest defense case of my life – and I fought it out groggy head and all. I lost. I ended up driving 2 hours to get an updated marriage certificate – one that is “acceptable” to Homeland Security, which means it has different colors on it. I guess what’s acceptable just changed recently. Who knew? This morning I also poked my eyeball out – hard – with a sharp object sticking out of my son’s bookbag.” Bleep…

Bzzt… “Ladies, it’s when twenty things pile on, that’s when I want to – die.” Bleep…

Now, let me tell you – these other bleeping women? They are my best blogger friends (Abby, Angela, Christy, Jami, Katie & Karina) – and they are about as caring and welcoming as a grandma with a hot plate of cookies. They love and then heap second helpings on your plate. It is how they are; I love them.

So, with all this said, why the bleep did I feel so horrible after I talked to them?

“They’re going to label me a complainer.”
“They’re going to think I don’t have Jesus in me.”
“They’re going to wonder why I am not more positive.”

‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4:2′

This verse proves I am a failure. I am a “bad, bad girl”.

Considering this, my off-kilter heart transports right back to 3rd grade. I had talked out of turn. I always did. The teacher had me kneel 4-hours in front of the Holy Mother of God, Mary. She stood high. My knees went numb. Mary’s virgin eyes laid into me. They whispered, “Bad, bad girl.” 

Help me God…

untitled-design-6

I’m a bad, bad girl who doesn’t do good.
A bad, bad girl who makes others cringe.
A bad, bad girl who makes cheerful hearts go sour.
A bad, bad girl who will never “get it.”

My knees went home red that day, my heart went home injured. The lesson was learned: I was bad. Mary agreed.

So, today, I sit and wrestle with 3 questions.

1. Does discontentment disqualify me from being good?

If Jesus died to lay his very goodness over me, then his goodness is what I carry. Goodness is not dependent on a passing feeling or a state of mind – it is dependent on what was already accomplished on the cross.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14).

You did not choose me, but I chose you.. (Jo. 15:16)

2. Is sadness or frustration – a sin?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

According to the verse above, who cries? ___        Someone troubled- and likely sad.

Now, what does God do for these sad people? _____ He hears them.

Does he label them? ___ Well, yes, he does. He labels them – righteous.

The ones who cry out to God from the pit of pain certainly are labeled, but they are aren’t labeled shameful. They’re labeled righteous. While the enemy wants us to believe we are horrible, God just believes – his children are good.

3. Does my pain need to be squelched because it is dreadfully sinful, horrible and disturbing to man?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

When we cry to God, take a close look at what happens. Notice, God does not say: When the righteous cry out, the Lord tells them to hush up, pull it together and come back when they can put a smile on their face.

On the contrary. When the righteous cries, he hears and then delivers. He understands and then provides a way. He leans closer and then, like a good daddy, provides.

Jesus understands pain. He took it. He knows struggle. He lived through it. He felt emotion. He also cried. Our feelings weren’t given to us to be hated. They weren’t created by God to be called “bad, bad things.” They were handed down to us because God wants to hold them for us, care for them and show us how much he can provide.

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How to Find the Holy in Ordinary Trials

Holy in Ordinary Trials

Daily life is living a grind. You wait at a light, people pass. The light turns green, you go. You hit a red light, you stop. Then, you go. So does everyone else – every minute of the day, that make up hours, that make up days, that make up weeks, that make up lives. You get the picture. But, do you?

We stop and we go, we pause and we laugh, we cry and we try again, we fear and we fret, and before we know it – that was our life.

Breathe deep.

What if you acknowledged every moment as holy?

The dog rushing out the red door? You chasing after him in 10-year old pajamas. Holy.
The disagreement with that family member?  Holy.
The homework hour with the kid who doesn’t get it? Holy.
The carpool line that makes you feel less than? Holy.
The project at work that never ends? Holy.
The preparations for another dinner? Holy.

My son screaming in agony because his stomach hurts? Me, holding the bag around his neck as the yuck came out? A night of no sleep? Sitting here, with the face of baggy eyes and an oozy head – and a day of lost work ahead – it becomes a little harder to throw this blessed word to the wind and to watch it fly. Everything is always harder when it is personal.

If God, Father of all…
is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:6),
then he fills all ordinary moments with holy.

If we look for God’s holiness,
we will find it.

Between grabbing the trash bag and putting it around his neck, I laid my bruised hip on the ground with a grunt (I fell down the stairs the day before).  And in the middle of one of my super-wide I-really-hope-this-is-all-said-and-done yawns – it came. The holy, the special, the heaven unzipping moment we all search for: “Mommy, thank you for loving me. Thank you for taking care of me.”  

He saw love in action.
I saw raw thanks.
It inspired me.
Holy.

What have you written off as worthless? Dead? Not important?

What you consider worthless, God considers priceless, holy valuable.

Holy valuable means that the fleeing dog
is a reminder of how God pursues you when you’re lost.

Holy valuable means your disagreement is
a humility bootcamp preparing you for big missions.

Holy valuable means homework with the frustrated kid
is your chance to illustrate grace.

Holy valuable means the carpool line is a meeting point
to find God’s unconditional love over man’s tempermental approval.

Holy valuable means you learn God is in control of the project.
You surrender; He helps you.

Holy valuable means you remember, as you prepare dinner,
Jesus prepares a room for those who serve him.

Holy valuable means 8-hours of no sleep highlights the meaning of sacrificial, deep and authentic love – and how it works.

Breathe deep.

God is not only in your big “I-need-huge-faith moments”, but he is in your little moments. The faith garnered there, is faith that launches you to bigger there’s.

Noah did what God commanded him (Gen. 6:22). He saved nations.
Daniel prayed 3 times a day (Dan. 6:10 ). He saw miracles.
Elijah followed through in what God called him to do (2 Kings 1:15). He spoke the very prophecies of God.
David got reliant on God. He conquered not only lions and bears but giants (Sam. 13:34-37)

How might God use you for big things,
if you sought after his heart, presence and promptings in the little?

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Lu. 16:10

Little trials are big doors that walk us right into God’s epic story, his unparalleled vision for this world. You count it momentary, he counts it monumental. You count it nothing, he counts it everything. You count it unseen to others, and he says, “Yes, that’s the point.”

Breathe deep and recognize – your ordinary moments are holy valuable.

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When You Long to Do Something Bad

Beauty In Imperfection

I was in the store. I looked left and I looked right. I winked at my co-conspirator. I knew what I was going to do was wrong. Real wrong. But, I wanted to follow through. I wanted the thrill, the goods and the joy of her knowing I could do this. I grabbed the shirt and ducked in the dressing room.

Guilt followed me.

Is there something you’re doing behind the curtain?

Is there something you know you shouldn’t do,
but feel inclined to do anyway?

What is done in secret is still seen by God.

Ouch! That hurts right?  The reality is, we don’t want to stop. We want to keep going because the idea of approaching it the right way feels too difficult, emotional or vulnerable. It is hard to stop what you already have going, what you’ve already invested in. Stopping sin, sometimes feels like stopping a freight train going 100 miles an hour with your bare hand.

Just this morning, I wanted to approach something the easy way. There was a clear-cut solution to a difficult problem. I saw a direct path; it was wrong. I convinced myself it wasn’t really wrong. I counted up the ways, it could be right. I negotiated with my holy side – God can make a little allowance for this one.

God didn’t agree. He gave no peace.

“Just this once, God?”

When I try to grant permission to the wrong way,
I miss seeing God’s way –
 finding the reward at the end of the path called, “faith.”

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb. 11:6

Faith is believing in God so much, you do the right thing. It is deciding it is hard, but determining he will take care of you. It is believing that even without the thrill, he’ll thrill your heart. It is believing, even if you have to do it the long way, he’ll give shortcuts. It is believing, pain in the making is all about the new God is creating.

You can go the right way because God’s way always treats you right.

Provider will provide.
Lover will love.
Helper will help.
Guider will guide.
Creator will create opportunities.
Healer will heal.

When you open yourself up to God’s will pushing from behind you,
his new life-giving way opens up before you.

Will you believe by faith so you don’t walk fretting bad decisions?

Certainly, the result of one who walks by faith is being near to God. But, the lengths of God’s blessings don’t stop there, friends, he goes beyond this. He says he “rewards” the person who seeks him.

When you walk in obedience, by faith, he rewards in abundance – that very faith.

Imagine that?!  What you want, will be greater, if by faith, you let him give it to you.

Fear not.
Strive not.
Lust not.
Drink not.
Compare not.
Want not.
Steal not.
Lie not.
Worry not.

God has the best gift waiting for you.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean…”  (Heb 10:22)

Let nothing come between you and the giver and sustainer of life. He has what you need. He is what you need. So,drop all that holds you back and walk towards him, unhindered, into all that he is ready to give you.

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Related Reading:

Sometimes, Failing Precedes Blessings

How to Really Fight Back using the Sword of the Spirit

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When Life Goes Not Good, Not Good at all!

Not Good at all

I love Annie’s all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies and only the all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies.

At this point, you are probably asking 2 questions:

  1. Why is she telling us this?  I promise there will be a good point.
  2. Why is she eating something so childish as that? Because I try to pretend my kids love them.

So, sometimes, with these all-chocolate graham bunnies, they run out of stock (probably because they are so amazing). Then I have to settle for the mixed bag – with vanilla and chocolate chips. I try to pick out my favorites. But, my all-time fave bunnies, well, they don’t taste the same- the other flavors rub off on them.

Almost every time, after I do that, I vow not to buy that mixed bag again. But, yesterday, I did. My sugar craving won over bad memories.

When I sat down with the bag at home, I considered…

What if I saw things differently?

What if rather than expecting that these bunnies taste exactly as planned,
I expect a different plan,

but not an all-together bad plan?

What if rather than pushing my demands,
I open myself up to delight in these bunnies as they are – in a new way?

I can accept:

They won’t be as flavorful as before, but different.
They won’t crunch exactly the same, but different.
They won’t be my all-chocolate bunnies; but different.

I crunched, munched and considered them a whole bunch…and by golly, I liked them. I really liked them. I do like green egg and ham, or rather the vanilla-coated chocolate bunnies in my hand.

If I failed to consider them from a new angle,
I would have failed to grasp the joy present in the moment.

How might you need to see things from a new angle?

What might God be prompting you to let go of – so you can grab hold of – a new view?

Times change. People move on. Days look different. Life evolves, turns and seasons change. And what I find can be the hardest thing to contend with are good times, gone. Good memories, lost. Good laughs, evaporated.

What is it you are still grasping for – that is long gone?

Might you consider a new angle?

Perhaps what is good is gone, because what is great – is coming.

Have you considered that?

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Is. 43:19

When we look at a job as dead-end, we miss the little path God has jutting out to a new opportunity. When we see a marriage as failed, we miss the rail that leans us onto God’s great love. When we see finances as doomed, we miss the door God wants to open to save us. When we see our anxiety as endless, we miss the small prompting of new life God calls us to. When we see life only as overwhelming, we miss the wind of God directing us where to go.

What are you missing?

Maybe something has taken new form because God wants your heart to take new form.

We are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

Next time something seems lost, paused or different than expected, ask yourself these three things:

  1. Might God be doing “a new thing”?
  2. Am I open armed or closed armed to his movement?
  3. Will I believe that God is moving me from glory to glory,
    or will I walk against his wind, trying to step back into an old story?

Friends, I know it is hard. I hate it too. I stomp my feet, I chide change and I turn my back on things outside of comfortable. But, I am going to assure you – and me – we are not sitting with a mixed bag of blah. What we are sitting with is a bag of blessings. God is moving us into spiritual progress, greater spiritual blessings. There is fullness God so desires we enjoy.

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When You Think, “There is No Way”

no way

We all have our monsters. The real vile ones are from days of old; they give us night-shivers to remember. The fast ones whip us, encouraging us to more quickly chase perfection. The obnoxious ones form in our mind, informing us we are no better than our worse fears. The slow-moving one arrives like an envelope with amounts past due, they point to the depths we can never climb. But, the worst – the absolute worst – are the types that tell us our big God is small. They that tell us we fooled ourselves; God doesn’t really come through for our likes.  These ones are beasts. Tall. Ferocious. Salivating. Beasts. Throwing insults.

(Goliath) said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”
And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 1 Sam. 17:43

Our Goliath-monsters speak too, you know?

Am I not threatening enough –  that you think you can beat me?

Am I to laugh, that you think you can beat me with prayer?

Am I an imbecile, that you speak thousand-year old bible verses and think they’ll work?

Am I not injurous enough, that you believe in something you cannot see, when you see the heights of me?

Am I not pleasurable enough, that you would come at me with the thought God makes you enough?

Ba….Ha…ha…ha!

Look at her…

The finger points.
The chants ensue.
We stand there. Nearly naked.
Sweat dripping.

We feel the assault on a God who seems silent.

We wait, looking left and right hoping to do something. Needing – to do something.

What giant monster taunts you?

What does he say?

When I was a waitress, we used to say, “I’m in the weeds.” It means someone is about to dump a plate of spaghetti on your head because you’ve gotten too far behind. It also means that the appetizer you’re holding should actually be dessert and you are pretty much hated by multiple tables. You crawl under a table cloth at the at point. You are stuck. You hate yourself.

I have a book coming out a couple of months. I’m in the weeds. The monster is there. He speaks,
“Kelly, you have no time, you have no ability, you have no power to succeed.
What others have 
in talent, you don’t. You’re an imposter.”

Yet, when I fight to hear God’s voice. Something surfaces.

When you hear insults over invading love,
you can be sure that you’re hearing the insidious voice of a monster,
not God.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

I love how David talked back. We, good girls, don’t do this enough. We’ve been taught to cross our legs, dot our i’s and cross our t’s, but we’ve hardly been taught to snap back. We’ve hardly been taught to stand up for ourselves.

But, what if, rather than being women of subservience to bad monsters, we talked back?

What if, instead, we got defiant, not reliant on these voices?

I almost see it… women, rising, a valiant insurrection,
not directed at husbands or people who annoy us,

but at the internal voices of lies.

I want that.

I want to talk back to these insidious voices with truth
so insurmountable it instigates a movement of unstoppable women for Christ.

Imagine that.

Now, that little monster voice tells me, “Kelly, you’re sounding extreme again.”

But, you know what? I shush it up and go “bad-girl” on it.

I laugh in it’s face.
I spit.

I say, “God can do all things. So, shush it up! I am tired of your lies. You’re a dog that I should laugh at you.”

David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Sam. 17:49)

1 Stone.
1 shot.
1 sling.
1 vote of full confidence in his Lord.
1 belief that it didn’t matter what he had, but who he had.
1 ounce of trust that miracles can and do happen.

David didn’t need much.
I don’t need much.
You don’t either…

…but, God.

God is the everything we need.
He is the Filling to our gap.
He is the Provider to our debt.
He is the Answer to our need.
He is the Way through our dead end.

Find His life to gain life.

That thing that looks too big to accomplish – is smaller than God.
That thing that seems like it will kill you – cannot overcome the life of Christ.
That thing that plagues you with a screechy voice – is silenced by the peace of God.

Let the monsters speak, because there is one who speaks louder.
Who rides higher. Who is greater. Who will ride in victory, apparent, in glory before all mankind.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. Rev. 19:11-15

The fight is on your behalf. If you don’t believe Jesus can win for you – I don’t know who can.

Next time the Goliath-monster starts spouting off again, tell him to shush up and sit down, Faithful and True is on your side! And, with Him, you’re about to win.

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When You Lose It (And Hate Yourself for it)

Lose It

Yesterday, I pegged a bottle of sparkling water at my shopping cart. I lost it. After battling the running-of-the-bulls (aka. mothers at Target) pushing to grab glue, paper and alcohol (aka. hand sanitizer), I lost it. After standing in a 7-person deep line, making it to the front, only to be informed the lane was close, I lost it. After seeing said-cashier, roam around aimlessly with nothing to do, I lost it. After dealing with two toddlers who were sleep and food-deprived screaming gymnasts in my cart, I lost it. After contrapting them safe into their car seats, only to find a security device still wrapped around my sons newly-purchased USB headphones, I lost it. After opening the trunk and being pegged by bags and bottles of water that wouldn’t stop rolling down the parking lot.  I. REALLY. Lost. It.

I. Threw. Things.
I tried to ruin a cart with canned water.

Today, it happened again. The moving truck said he’ll be late – by 2 days. 48 hours of whoops-we-scheduled-you-wrong. How does that happen?

I banged my head. I caught a cold. I blasted people. Was it their fault? It didn’t matter.

I was at my wits end. Wits end is the place where you are convinced your life could end if you continue on this warpath.

Here:
1.) Everyone is enemy.
2.) Peace is as lost as your once-rational mind.
3.) Anguish, anger and annoyance beat up inanimate and intimate object alike.

After you act bad enough, you say,
“Why am I losing it? I’m supposed to be Christian,
not a woman of demolition!”

Shame settles.

There were about 10 instigators that got me to this point. People who knew the wrong word to speak, arguments that bubbled, fears that seemed as prevalent as Zika mosquitos. I hadn’t been bitten, but was already dying.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of me when I lose it?

I know God says be slow to anger. Ja. 1:19
I know God says anger lands in the laps of fools. Ec. 7:9
I know God says to rid yourself of anger. Col. 3:8

But, I also know, Jesus didn’t die to demand absolute-perfection,
but to cover ever-abounding weakness (with his perfection). 

In Jesus’ time, there were perfect-looking ones.

Take a look at how Jesus talked to these types: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. Mt. 23:27

I suppose, what is comforting is – even in the heat of my 100-mile an hour, metal pitch – I didn’t look like a “whitewashed tomb” beautiful on the outside. Rather, I looked different: Ugly on the outside, wanting to be alive and clean on the inside.

While we judge ourselves on outward actions,
God is far more concerned about inner intentions.

Sometimes, better is a purely wrecked heart before God,
than a white-washed tomb before man.

Sometimes, better is a crazed woman rapidly-approaching God,
than one hiding behind doilies, daisies or drugs.

Sometimes, better is an unleashed moment,
if it brings long-needed cathartic repentance before the King.

Let me tell you, Jesus can handle your worst moment, tantrum, fight or foible.

It is not too much for him.
He won’t disown you.
He won’t back out.

We think that Jesus can’t handle us, yet he handled the most deadly carcinogen, called sin, on the cross. He handled whips on his side. He handled insults and spit, vile and vitriol. He handled all that.

Can’t Jesus handle a LaCroix Passion Fruit flavored
can hurled at a red cart?
I think he can.

He can handle Kelly-unleashed, untamed and unruly. He can handle you too.

I guess, looking back, rather than throwing bullets at plastic, I could have thrown my head right onto the steering wheel, shut down the cries a seat behind me – and just cried too. I could have called out. I could have pleaded to feel His love. I could have let Him know – I feel crazy. I could have breathed deep. I could have given myself an encouraging word, a word that says, “This is hard Kelly. There is a lot going on. Extend yourself the patience and grace that God would.” I could have heard the voice of Jesus.

Today, though, I look back and remind myself, God doesn’t tally up the ways I defect from His Christian fan club. He doesn’t cast me to the long-line in order to reach His throne. He doesn’t demote me. He doesn’t despise me.

His plans are to uprise me.

More and more, I am seeing, I must come undone, so I can be redone in Christ’s image. When I get beyond my mind, I find his.

Sometimes, it takes losing it to find Him. Surely, it is not the best path to God, but sometimes, it is the path that makes you realize – that control you thought you owned? Well, you never even purchased to begin with. He did, when he died on the cross.  With this, you find yourself on your knees, in a low stance, that almost always raises you high – directly into new hope.

Something works, even when you feel everything about you doesn’t.

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Why Christian’s stay Blind and Struggling

Blind and Struggling

I’ve been praying lately, to be rid of this flesh-eating bacteria. I know, trust me, I know, it sounds weird. And, I guess you wouldn’t even call it a “flesh-eating bacteria,” because it is more like “soul-eating bacteria.” Or maybe a “peace-eating bacteria”. A “night-time sleep-ruining bacteria.

It chases at my heels telling me I should settle tomorrow’s emotions rather than claiming right now’s peace. You too?

Worry.
It smothers hope; making you desire fix-it dope to feel better.
It exchanges the peace of God for fear of _____.
It stunts the muscles God plans to grow during trials.
It debilitates peace.
It corrodes holy.
It eats joy, causing doubt.

This is why I pray so often, “God, I don’t want to worry. I don’t want to continuously think about people or problems one day longer.”

Because these things blind me. 

..Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:22-23

Do you see anything when you worry?

Where does worry incline your eyes?

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:24

People like trees? Jesus, the miracle-maker, the Prince of Peace, the great physician left this man seeing – trees?  Did the greatest healer – fail? What kind of jacked-up miracle was this?

Let’s consider this deeper…
When the blind man opened his eyes, following Jesus’ touch, “He looked up and said, ‘I see people.‘”

Notice: The blind man did not focus on the Man with Power, but the people with none.

The very God before him – he did not see.
But, he what did see was – his issue.

Where do your eyes head 10-minutes after you get with God?

To people? Problems? Predicaments?  

Sometimes our focus prevents us from seeing – and receiving – God’s greatest work. Like a stray lover, we look at everyone but our first love; we miss his best intentions towards us. We can’t see, because we are too busy looking elsewhere. We become infected with the virus of looking-at-man, looking-at-issues or looking-at-distractions. We partially see God, but we mostly do not.

If we focus on people over the person of Jesus, we’ll never see progress. But, if we focus on the person of Jesus, before the face of our problems, we will face peace.

When we:
1. Wake and seek Jesus as our first thought, our day often is established.
2. Pray and expect God to answer, we get excited to see.
3. Look in order to find God we, many times, do.
4. Ask to see the Lord’s handiwork it becomes more obvious.
5. Hope and request to feel his love, it circles.
6. When we believe that God can do the unthinkable, we perceive God can do the unthinkable.

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:25

I don’t believe this man could see because hands were – on his eyes,
but because Jesus was entirely – in his eyes.

When he opened his eyes, the second time, unlike the first time, he didn’t see problem people, but Jesus, all Jesus, the full-force of Jesus in power and glory, standing right before him. You simply cannot come face-to-face with Jesus – you simply cannot let him into your heart – without something miraculous happening.

This man? With the radiant power of Jesus before him, all he could do – was see. For, Jesus, the man known to have eyes like torches (Dan. 10:5-6) opened his vision to a whole new path. A path to recovery. 

He saw everything clearly. Mark 8:25

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How to Make Stress Work For You

It all happened when I got stuck, sweating bullets in a parked car with a 3-year old who was certain my body was her gym mat. I was over the wait, but the countdown was ongoing. He was nowhere in sight.

My texts went unanswered.
40-minutes passed.
He knew I was parked.

I dialed him again.  Nothing.
Soon after, I saw his phone resting on the car mat.

I tapped my foot, frustrated.

Towing a 3-year old, we headed into the restaurant. We asked some people if they had seen a man with dark brown hair. The one with a boy? No. No. No.

My face reddened. My hand tightened. I pulled the girl out of irritation.

But, breaking the layers of heavy, and as if a messenger of God handed me a “Peace-note”, I remembered the recently-read words in “Sacred Stress.” They reminded me: There is an opportunity found in adversity…

The words said, “A Harvard University study found when participants reframed stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, they felt energized and performed better.” Hmm…

Could I see this as a challenge rather than a threat that:
1.) Wastes my time?
2.) Ticks me off?
3.) Makes me worried?

The words said, ” Viewing stressful situations as healthy and an opportunity for growth usually eliminates the negative stress-related symptoms.”

What is coming against me, can actually work for me,
when reframed right.

The words said, I can create a positive outcome, a positive view and change the outcome, thereby escaping stress.

Situations don’t rule me, God does.

I can choose to see things from his good view;
it changes my poor view.

I can choose to see thigns from his good view; it changes my poor reactions.

Would this really work?

I tried:

“I have an opportunity to find and extend the grace of God.”
“God is calling me to lean on him. I will know Him better through this.”
“Maybe it will provide an awesome time for daddy to connect with son as they walk home. I can’t wait to hear.”
“I can show my kids we can beat the power of stress by not being stressed.”

I felt proud of my words, but still, troubled by anxiety.

The words said: “Name it.” This means giving an “honest accounting” of how you feel so you can get to the root emotion.

If you speak positive words but don’t let God tend to your bucking emotions,
you’ll still wildly flail out of control.

 

 

 

When we admit our feelings, see them for what they are, and let God hold them –
He does.

 

 

 

We land at peace.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

Looking back, I didn’t handle this situation just right. I messed it up. But, guess what?

I have next time. God doesn’t shun me and say, “You are one and done.” Nope. He is the God of ample opportunities. He is the God of perpetual second chances. He is the God of unending learnings. He will help me at my next crossroad. He will instruct me on the way I should go. I feel a little nervous about this. I see the fear in me – the fear of failure.  God sees it too.  He can handle it. It is not too much.

He whispers, “My perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jo. 4:18

In this moment, I know I found something. I have arrived somewhere.

It’s called “Sacred Stress”.

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About Sacred Stress: A Radically Different Approach to Using Life’s Challenges for Positive Change

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.10.41 AMStress can limit our perspective, leaving us feeling trapped and out of control. But stress can also be a force for good: It is our challenges that most compel us to reach out for relationship. And our proudest moments come after overcoming obstacles we thought were insurmountable.

Based on personal experience and their work as therapists, and drawing on decades of psychological research, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, and The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright have come to see that stress can be healthy and positive. They equip us with the skills and the knowledge we need to reframe our thinking about stress, understand and embrace our darker emotions, and become stronger through difficulty. View on Amazon.

Learn more about Sacred Stress.

About the Authors

George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for twenty years who participated in 9/11 rescue efforts, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor, and an Emotionally Focused certified therapist, supervisor and trainer. He is also the founder and president of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches at the Ackerman Institute in Manhattan.

The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is a licensed professional counselor and executive director for a faith-based counseling center. She taught graduate-level counseling and pastoral theology and served as a board certified chaplain. She is the author of Redeeming Eve: Finding Hope beyond the Struggles of Life and Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction.

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